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A BBC Freedom of Information Act request reveals how the film companies lobbied Lord Mandelson to put the Digital Economy Bill through before the election. And how they planned to lobby MPs from all parties to make it happen.



A lobby group which fronts for the Hollywood Studios wrote to Lord Mandelson last July, demanding that he put copyright enforcement legislation through Parliament before the election.  They praised him for accepting their  'principle' - that ISPs should share responsibility for copyright enforcement. And they said they were keen to work with politicians on all sides  to achieve a consensus

  The group, which

 calls itself Respect for Film, comprises the major Hollywood Studios  - NBC Universal, Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney, Warner Bros, and Paramount. It also includes their international lobby group, the Motion Picture Association, as well as the UK's Film Distributor's Association (FDA) and the British Video Association. The FDA president  is Lord David Puttnam , who is also on the House of Lords committee which was  scutinising the Digital Economy Bill over the past 3 months.  


The letter was revealed in an article on the BBC website, and follows a Freedom of Information Act request for all correspondence between BIS and lobbyists concerning the Digital Economy Bill.

The text of the letter, which was addressed to Lord Mandelson's personal email address, and forwarded within  BIS by his private secretary, said: 

"We have  been closely involved in the Digital Britain process and have made clear our support for the overriding objective of seeing Internet Service Providers share the responsibility for tackling digital copyright theft... we are pleased that the government's report accepted this principle'.  

"It is crucial to the success of content providers in a digital economy that this legislation gets onto the statue (sic)  book before the General Election. to that end, we are keen to work with you to ensure that politicians on all sides understand how urgently this legislation is required and to work through any issues that might arise."...'We hope that both industry and political consensus can be reached in the months ahead that will facilitate that process". 


Interestingly, the writer of the letter, Lavinia Carey of the British Video Association, wishes Lord Mandelson 'an enjoyable summer''

As was widely reported, he enjoyed at least one summer evening  with a Hollywood mogul on a  yacht in the Mediterranean.  

To me, it looks rather like the ISPs - and the Conservatives and LibDems - were stitched up. 


The full text of the Respect for Film letter can be downloaded here. 

The full article Digital Economy: the Mandelson letters   is on the BBC website. 



This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) How Hollywood lobbied for the Digital Economy Bill 3 April  2010 







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